Dean's Message on U.S. News Rankings


UCI Law maintains its extraordinary reputation for teaching and scholarship and its strong commitment to inclusive excellence and public service. These aspects of our school define us and are integral to our mission of promoting excellence, innovation, and an ethic of professionalism. 

Yesterday, U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) released its latest law school rankings.  We are ranked No. 15 among public schools and No. 35 among 193 law schools. In this unprecedented year, these latest rankings are also unprecedented. They contain a variety of new metrics and were recalculated by USNWR three times in the past two weeks. With their tinkering, the overall rankings of law schools across the country changed by as much as five places up or down. USNWR’s actions raise serious questions about the integrity of its overall law school rankings. 

More importantly, our peer rankings, which are based solely on our reputation amongst law schools, remain unaffected by USNWR’s meddling with their data. These peer rankings and specialty rankings reflect our many strengths along the metrics that matter to us, including preparing students to be practice ready through our clinics and legal writing programs:

  • Peer Reputation Ranking: No. 19 (our best ranking to date).
  • Clinical Training:  No. 6 nationally and No. 2 among public schools (our best ranking to date).
  • Legal Writing: No. 9 nationally and No. 5 among public schools (our best ranking to date).

In addition, our peers continue to rank our intellectual reach highly:

  • Tax Law: No. 1 on the west coast, No. 6 nationally (our best ranking to date; up five spots from last year), and No. 3 among public schools.
  • Intellectual Property Law: No. 19 nationally and No. 7 among public schools (up six spots from last year).
  • Constitutional Law: No. 20 nationally and No. 8 among public schools.

Three more UCI Law programs are ranked in the top 30 by our peers as well: International Law (No. 22), Dispute Resolution (No. 24), and Criminal Law (No. 27).

Our very high reputational rankings and specialty rankings demonstrate the high-quality of our program of legal education. Our consistent, pathbreaking excellence across many fields makes us an academic destination for incredibly talented and diverse students. 

Our employment numbers also remain high, despite USNWR discounting important positions funded by the University of California President’s Public Service Law Fellowship Initiative. These fellowships are vital to our students’ ability to secure extraordinary employment opportunities with stellar public interest organizations around the world. Because our commitment to service is a core value, we remain dedicated to making these important pathways to practice in government and public interest available to our students. 

Two new USNWR metrics, applied for the first time this year, penalize schools like ours that are committed to increasing access to a legal education for all students regardless of wealth. Nearly 98 percent of our J.D. candidates receive financial aid in the form of scholarship funding. In keeping with our commitment to admit students from all walks of life, we will continue our practice of need-blind admissions despite the incentives these new USNWR metrics create.

We have accomplished incredible milestones together, especially during this challenging year defined by a global pandemic, racialized violence, and an insurrection at our Capitol. We continue to achieve groundbreaking success for a school that opened its doors to students just 11 years ago. 

I am grateful for our extraordinary community and for all the ways we continue to support each other and our broader community with compassion, empathy, and care.  We also look forward to welcoming incredible new faculty next year. I’m excited to share more details about these amazing teachers, mentors, and scholars very soon.  I am proud of who we are and I appreciate your devotion to UCI Law’s continued excellence, especially during this unprecedented year.


L. Song Richardson
Dean and Chancellor's Professor of Law